Thursday, December 20, 2007

In the middle of the road

There are certain times in life that you find yourself reflecting on what has been and what might be. Certainly the closing of another year is one of those for me. I think back on what I’ve done this year. And what remains to be done. You can make all the lists, tick off all the tasks, but it seems that the road never ends. That the next step forward only brings more steps forward. That when you look behind you, the road twists off into the distance and you realize you’ve come a long way. But then you turn around, and the road twists off into the distance before you as well. So you find yourself standing in the middle of the road, hoping to hell that Mack truck doesn’t turn you into pâté. And you wonder, should I go back? Should I go forward? I’m in the middle of it – both directions look daunting.

I don’t want to go back. I, like Joe Pike with his red arrows on his shoulders, will always drive forward. Daunted for sure. But at the end of this year and the start of the new one, I recommit myself to driving forward.

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Great Lemonade Stand Robbery

Jez, this is a tough world when a kid can't even run a lemonade stand without fear of getting stuck up. And this shit Tony punched the poor kid! I don't think 10 days is long enough. But something tells me that the criminal justice system hasn't seen the last of one Anthony Hans.

Teen who robbed child’s lemonade stand gets jail, scolding
Wheeler News Service
Published Friday, November 16, 2007

A judge in Oshkosh scolded an 18-year-old man, saying he shocked the community when he robbed an 11-year-old boy’s lemonade stand.

Anthony Hans was sentenced to 10 days in jail Thursday.

Circuit Judge Karen Seifert also put him on two years’ probation, and ordered 50 hours of community service. The judge said the robbery upset people in Oshkosh and they wondered who would an attack an 11-year-old boy. Hans pleaded no contest to reduced charges misdemeanor theft and disorderly conduct.

He had been charged with battery for punching Austin Cundy, pushing him off his chair and stealing a plastic jar of money from his lemonade stand. It happened July 25.

Austin said he was raising the money to go camping with his grandparents and to buy his mom a birthday present. Instead, prosecutors said Hans used the $20 to buy cigarettes.

Austin received lost of support and donations once the story made national news. He ended up giving $620 in gifts and lemonade money to the Oshkosh Humane Society.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Who knew murder and mayhem could be so fun?

Just got back from a book event in the "Genuine American City" known as Milwaukee and had a hell of a time. It was the third annual Murder and Mayhem in Muskego at the Muskego Public Library.

The weekend kicked off with an author gathering at the Mystery One Bookstore on Friday night. Mystery One is one of those classic independent bookstores run by two fellows, Richard Katz and Dave Biemann, that really know their stuff and are willing to share their knowledge with anyone willing to ask. We all jammed into the cozy confines taking our turns signing books and chatting with readers that came from as far away as California. When we weren't signing, we all gathered in a nice little bar right next door that worked as a very nice bullpen. I think Richard and Dave picked the store locale just for that reason!

Then Saturday we all gathered at the library and Penny Halle's steady hand steered us through a wonderful day of chatting about books and characters and all things mystery. Robert Crais, Laura Lippman, and Greg Rucka were all interviewed and as a newbie author, it's always nice to listen at the feet of these pros. They've fought the fights and have the scars to prove it and I learned a lot from their talks.

It was also good to catch up with a couple other chums, Sean Chercover and Tom Schreck. They write very different types of books both should be on your to-be-read pile. And of course, I'll be adding several new authors to my list as well: Sean Doolittle, Gregg Hurwitz, Carl Brookins - to name just few. I always seem to find new authors to read whenever I go to one of these things.

I also got a chance to meet Jon Jordan and his lovely wife Ruth. Jon and Ruth publish Crimespree Magazine, one of the best magazines out there devoted to mysteries and thrillers. It was fun to chat with Jon about, as Jimmy Buffett sees as the 8th deadly sin, pizza. Ask him about his month long experiment with pizza. I don't know how he can eat another slice....

Thank you Penny, Richard, Dave, Jon, Ruth - hell everyone that attended Murder and Mayhem and making this new author feel so welcome. I'll be seeing you next year!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Wonder why we ever go home....

Photo Credit Don Reiland

River gets deeper not shallow,
the further you move down the stream.
Wonderin'if I can keep her as I
race to keep up with my dreams.
How they shine and glitter and gleam.
-Jimmy Buffett

I'm off to do a little research. Yeah, that's what I call it and everyone just smiles and gives me a wink. I guess I would too if I was on the other side the conversation. See, I write about a guy that lives in the Caribbean so I need, on occasion, to travel to the Caribbean to do "research." Me and and a couple of friends are going sailing in the British Virgin Islands.

Photo Credit Don Reiland
Should be plenty of opportunity to do some research on how the sun feels, how the water glistens, how the rum tastes. The Caribbean is why I write. To say the Caribbean is my muse is a bit pretentious, but there, I've said it. I write about the Caribbean because it's in my soul and it gives me life. And as I move down this stream of life, chasing those glittering dreams, I need a
little time with my girl. So if you need me next week, give a call to the Foxy's and leave a message. I'll get back to ya....

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Criminally good time

The Valley Bookseller had me out for their October installment of the monthly
Totally Criminal Cocktail Hour at the Dock Cafe. I have to say, I haven't had as good a time talking about books in quite a while. We had a couple drinks, some appetizers and I read a little bit and answer a bunch of very insightful questions. I love book lovers! They ask the best questions!
Thank you one and all for coming out on a glorious fall day and supporting a local boy and a local bookseller. And a special thank you to Karren and Joci at the Valley Booksellers for extending me the invitation. I'll come back anytime!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Thank you

As many Americans have, I've been fascinated by Ken Burns' and Lynn Novick's The War documentary that's been showing on PBS. I wish I had something more profound to say, but all I can think of is thank you. And I promise not to waste the opportunity you gave me.

Sunday, September 16, 2007


It's become a cliché hasn't it? Everytime fall rolls around you find yourself looking, with the fondest of memories, back on the summer that was. Well...yeah, I do it too. There is a reason it's a cliché after all.
Much brighter men and women have said more about this than I'll ever be able to. So I'll just be happy to live in the present and cherish the past and know that with these changes come new adventures and new excitement and new experiences. That with this change in season comes a change in my life as I progress down the shallow and rocky stream that is being a published author. Still learning to read that stream. Still trying to find where the trout hide. Still trying to find some words that will last so I cast my fly, hoping to get that lunker to rise.
Yeah, change is good.

Monday, August 27, 2007

You talkin' to me?

Last night I found myself writing a particularly violent scene in book #2 of the Phil Riley Novels and I confess, it made me a bit queasy. Geez, I'm kinda getting into this, I found myself thinking. Method acting for actors is a commonly accepted approach to "getting into a character's head" - why shouldn't it be the same for writers? I don' recall Robert DiNero donning a Mohawk and gunning down pimps. I think that would have made the papers. So clearly, playing Travis Bickle hasn't had a lasting impact on his psyche. Maybe I'll be okay then, huh? Maybe I won't become a psychopathic killer like the characters in my novels, huh? But what does it mean if I don't mind writing violent scenes?

You talkin' to me?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Rain, rain, go away...

It's been raining a fair amount lately. Nothing like what's been hitting Middle America or my friends down on the Yucatan and the Caribbean, but a nice steady rain with an occasional downpour. For me, this kind of rain is a meditative thing. It makes me drowsy to the point where I only have the energy to take a nap. Tough to get out of bed in the morning when the skies are gray.

But there is something magical about being on the water in a rain shower. It seems to quiet everything - it's a hush thrown over the proceedings. Sure, if you are clipping along, the rain can be like pin pricks to the face, but overall, there is a solemnity to the whole thing. You feel like you are part of something larger than yourself. You feel contected to the rhythms of the world as only a boat on big water can. You slip and slide with the water. You are embraced by water. You have become one with the water.

These are the things I think about while I lay in bed trying to find the will to get up on a rainy day. But then my wife turns off the shower and that's my cue to throw away the covers and take the helm of a new day.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Books and Pie....

....two of my favorite things....
Had a signing at my local bookstore Back to Books this last weekend. Had a great time! Ate some KeyLime Pie from one of my favorite local restaurants (they play Buffett tunes!), munched a few cookies, signed a couple books and chatted with folks I haven't seen in some time - or have never met. Always good to come out from behind the computer and chat with the readers of the work you've toiled over.
The folks as BtB do a great job and their creaky floored store is a treasure to browse. Diane and Miah and the rest of the crew have a keen eye for talented authors (thus my appearance of course) and have a hellava regional section. You should be able to find something that interests you. And if you are picky, they can order anything you want - if it's still in print that is.
Thanks to everyone that came out - and a special thank you to the crew at Back to Books!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Adventures on Route 66

At Thrillerfest I had the pleasure of attending a presentation by David Morrell regarding his passion for Route 66 - the television show. I found it fascinating to learn from David's inspirations on how he came to writing and telling stories. Maybe I found it fascinating because they parallel mine. As a story teller, TV and movies have inspired me as well.

And last week I found myself in the great Southwest cruising along the old Route 66 thinking of David and the way it used to be. I stopped in Santa Rosa New Mexico for lunch at Joseph's Bar and Grill - and stepped back in time. But in a good way. I saw the way the "old" west was. Quiet, sun-baked, friendly people of blended races - Indian, Mexican, Anglo - all living under the wide open skies. I felt free there somehow. In small towns I often feel confined - trapped in a small cage, pacing. But not in Santa Rosa. Not on Route 66. I felt the wide open skies and the wide open spaces. I walked past the crumbling adobe buildings and felt the dry heat bake my skin. I looked into dark brown eyes and saw contentment and peace. Santa Rosa. Freedom. Peace. Tranquilty. Now I realize more than ever why David Morrell loved that television show so much.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

NYC, it's an adult portion....

As Chris Everheart reminded me, Levon Helm of The Band once said about NYC: "NYC, it's an adult portion."
Damn straight.

Just got back from Thrillerfest where I and fellow Midwesterners Kelly Keady and Chris Everheart took in the "sights and sounds" of the Big Apple. What a weekend - I'm not even sure where to begin. How about the beginning?

The organization honored 22 of us new authors with a breakfast where I got a minute to speak about myself and my book. At first I thought a minute wasn't very long - until I saw the sea of faces looking back at me. One minute can be very long indeed. But judging by the photo above, I didn't project that nervousness, although I think I stared at my book the entire time.

Then it was off to panels and discussions and networking and trying not to look or act too much like an asshole. Do no harm is the first rule at these things. Moderately successful on that front I think. Met some terrific people and I know I'll forget most of their names the next time we meet so I apologize now for that.

I did a couple signings for the book and here I am next to another debut author Sean Chercover. Picked up his book for the flight home - I'm a big James Crumley fan and I now have someone to fill that void 'cause Crumley doesn't write much anymore. Sean's Big City, Bad Blood is PI fiction at its best. And that's the lovely Jennifer from the equally lovely island of Barbados - and yes, Sean is stealing my women fans as fast as I make them....

I was on a panel with the great David Morrell and we chatted about heroes that aren't your typical hero. My guy being a dive shop operator qualified. Bright guy, and a huge fan of the old TV show Route 66. He gave a little presentation one night and I found it fascinating - and an intimate look into David's life and influences. It's those moments that I find fascinating - getting behind the green curtain and seeing the complete man.

More to come I'm sure, but my brain is still thick with all that's happened the past couple days. Time to hit the hammock and decompress. Margarita please....

Monday, July 2, 2007

Be good and you will be lonesome

Be good and you will be lonesome
Be lonesome and you will be free
Live a lie and you will live to regret it
That's what living is to me
-Jimmy Buffett

The 4th of July. Independence Day. Choosing our own destiny.

As the years of my life wind on, choosing my own destiny becomes increasingly important to me. It's one of the reasons I write. Hell, it might be the main reason. I know that. I write because I can control the story. I can control the life of my characters in a way that I find difficult in my own. I can choose their destiny. I can give them their independence.

And in so doing, I give myself some independence too. I live a life a little less lonesome; a life with a little less regret. Everyday I write I give myself a new independence day. Everyday I write I live less of a lie. And that's what living is to me.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

In a nutshell

I'm off to Thrillerfest in a couple weeks and they will be honoring me and some other first time authors with a little breakfast get-together to chat about ourselves and our books. But they've only given me 60 seconds to do it. Gee, 60 seconds isn't very long. I've lived a 40+ year life; I've written a 300+ page novel. Not sure how I'm going to squeeze all that living into 60 seconds. I guess I'll have to give them the "nutshell" version of my life and writing.
I was born. I grew up. I loved. I got married. I loved some more. I died. Yeah, pretty much in that order....

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

No way to go....

I read the article below in my local paper a few days back. It seemed funny at first - bizarre for sure. But then I got to thinking - I don't want to go out that way. I want to go out with a little dignity; a little class. I don't want my obit to read I was chasing a cell phone down a sewer drain. Seems a bit symbolic eh?

Sheboygan man drowns in sewer
SHEBOYGAN, Wis., June 7 (UPI)

A 41-year-old man drowned in Sheboygan, Wis., while trying to retrieve his cell phone from a storm sewer. Lt. Tim Eirich of the Sheboygan Police Department said the man, who weighed more than 300 pounds, was wedged in the storm drain with his head and shoulders under water, said the Sheboygan Press Thursday.

He was unconscious when he was pulled out of the drain and was pronounced dead upon arrival at the Aurora Sheboygan Memorial Medical Center.

Police said the deceased man's name is being withheld until his relatives are notified.

Neighbor Chris Van Erem and a local child were the first people on the scene to try and rescue the man, but his weight proved too much for them and they called 911.

"I could see his head and his shoulders were completely under the water," van Erem said. "His legs weren't moving. He was completely unresponsive."

Sheboygan County Coroner David Leffin has ruled the man's death an accident.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Fishing the Serengeti

Some of you might be surprised to learn that the original title for "Running Wrecked" was "Fishing the Serengeti." Yeah, kinda out there as far as titles go. That's why, in their infinite wisdom, my publisher changed the title. But the concept behind the first title is still there in the book, of course. That being, that Phil is a fish out of water in the situation he finds himself in. He is a figurative fish swimming in a place he shouldn't be.

I re-took up fly fishing last year after a long hiatus from it and I'm finding I'm a bit of a fish out of water with the whole fishing thing. I think it's that I don't do it enough to get good at the casting and reading the river and "matching the hatch" but I do the best I can. I dutifully ask my local shop "what's biting" and Mike just looks at me and sets me up with about 700 different flies to try knowing that I'll lose most of them in the trees or to my not so "improved" clinch knot.

But I'm trying and I'm learning and like Phil I'm learning that learning is all part of the game. That you have to do in order to improve. That the game of life is one long, never ending homework assignment. But at least I get to do this homework standing in a stream.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

breathe in, breathe out....

“There are only two things in life,
and I forget what they are.”
-John Hiatt

I was at a baseball game the other night with a friend, sitting between her and her son – a young, virile, handsome 17-year-old boy. We settle in and he strikes up a conversion with this young lady in the row in front of us. They get to chatting about things. She knows him because she’s seen him around town or some lame thing and then she asks, “Is that your Dad?” and points to me. I immediately flagged down the beer man and ordered two…for myself.

Look, I’m not a vain guy, really. No really, I’m not. I am what I am, moving along the path of life at a clip I consider reasonable. I’m happy with the accomplishments I’ve reached and I certainly don’t have a dearth of shiny and sparkling dreams to chase. There is a lot of life ahead of me and I’m looking forward to running it all down.

Although I do have this “slight” memory “problem” creeping up on me. Oh, don’t worry, it’s nothing serious. It’s not like I can’t hide my own Easter eggs - yet. But on occasion, I do have to stop and think about where I put the car keys. I attribute this memory “issue” to having too much going on in my life. Overload or something like that. The damn CPU that is my life is running at 100% most of the time. That little green line is flat-lined at the top of the graph.

So I’ve been taking more time for myself lately. Taking my retirement a little bit at a time (extra credit for those that know where that line comes from) and letting my mind rest a bit. Occasionally, you need to stop, fire up a nice Montecristo cigar, have a wee dram of Clynelish and enjoy the sweet, sweet summertime. Sit on the deck and listen to the neighborhood kids scream and hoot. Smile a self-satisfied smile that the rabbit you are watching is eating your neighbor’s flowers and not yours. Yeah, these days are certainly growing shorter and not longer, and I don’t want to forget to take time to enjoy them.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Blowing Bubbles....

Photo Courtesy of Superior Trips
I don't do as much cold water diving as I used to. I guess I've gotten a bit lazy as I've grown older - it's a lot easier rolling off a boat into 80 degree water than it is 39 degree water and I'm sure that has something to do with it. But I'm in the middle of writing the follow-up to "Wrecked" and there is, of course, some diving going on in this one too. And this time, some of the diving is done in the Great Lakes.
I've made many a dive in Lake Superior and I'm looking back on those dives as inspiration for these scenes. Some of the best diving I've ever done was around Isle Royale out in middle of Lake Superior. And one of my favorite dives is on the wreck of the Emperor. It's a spooky feeling dropping through that green haze and having that big ship open up before your eyes. She's a bit banged up now, but there is still a significant amount to see on her - especially if you poke around in the engine room.
All this reminiscing has got me wondering where my dry suit is and whether Ken's got an empty spot on a spring charter.....

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

This is war

I live in a neighborhood where everyone takes pretty good care of their lawn - and I like to think they think the same of my yard. Yeah, we've got a couple guys with the fancy auto sprinklers and their yards are neon green all summer long. Not me. I'm a bit old fashioned when it comes to watering in particular and lawn care in general. I'm not one of those wacky reel mower guys - I like a nice internal combustion engine - but I kinda like hauling the hoses around the yard. It's therapeutic watching that pulsing sprinkler do its magic dance that I choreographed by adjusting those little silver pins.
But I think I'm up against it this year. I've been invaded by pests! I've got these unsightly yellow spots scattered across the yard - and in particular the front yard for all to see. This simply won't do. The shame of it makes me leave the house before dawn so I don't have to face my neighbors derisive laughs. So, through rigourous investigation - and a quick question to one of the auto sprinkler guys - I've determined that I've got "lawn pests." Off to the lawn and garden store I go and buy a big ass bag of insecticide. I've only got a modest "city lot" so I think I purchased enough to do the whole block. But in this case I figure more is better. One must have reinforcements when one goes into battle, yes? I've got the 101st Airborne in reserve - figurativley speaking. I will win this battle and I will win this war and I will have the respect of my neighbors once again. Just don't let you kids play in my yard for a few months.....

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Dreams of sailboats dance in my head....

Yup. I know it's springtime when I start to dream about getting a sailboat. My current love is the J80 by J Boats. I've been lucky enough to sail a couple and they are fast, maneuverable and stable. A truly fine sailboat. But I've got a basement (oh sorry, "lower level") to finish and furnish so this dream may have to stay a dream for the time being. I hate it when reality gets in the way of my dreams....

Monday, May 7, 2007

So Cruel....

As I've mentioned before, music plays a significant role in my life and my writing. And because my tastes in music run the spectrum from crooners like Tony Bennett to fun loving troubadors like Jimmy Buffett I have a lot of music to draw from for various moods that I might be in - or be writing about.

I'm currently writing the follow-up to my first novel Running Wrecked and I'm finding myself exploring the darker side of human nature. So for musical inspiration, I wandered over to the CD rack and started from the bottom looking for those albums that I haven't listened to in some time. The ones that slowly got rotated to the bottom as the new stuff came in. And there, on the bottom, I came across an all-time favorite that I hadn't listened to in some time - Achtung Baby by the Irish group U2. And on this album is a tune called "So Cruel." The first stanza goes:

We crossed the line
Who pushed who over?
It doesn't matter to you
It matters to me

The song is about a personal relationship gone bad - but it means more to me. It speaks to the cruelty we can inflict on each other without realizing the consequences of our actions. We cross the line everyday - and do we realize it? Who pushed who? Does it matter? It matters to me.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

The first print review....

The other day my publicist showed me my first review of "Wrecked." I was a little nervous when he said he had a review for me - you never know how people are going to react to your work. I've had several people read my writing before - and they've never been shy with their comments - but this was different. Having someone outside your circle commenting on your writing is completely different than the people you know and hand pick to read your work. This is putting it out there.
But this is why writers write. To see the reactions of others when they read the words you put on the page. It's actually a great honor - having someone take their valuable time to read something that you cooked up. You hope you've done a decent enough job not to have completely wasted their time. Because in the end, I'm a story teller. And if I've bored you - if I've not entertained you - then I've done you a great disservice. I have failed you.
So in the end, reviews aren't really about me. They are about the reader. Because as a storyteller, it's the reader I serve.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

What face today?

I'm writing the follow-up to "Wrecked" and I always start with a theme when I begin a project. For "Wrecked" the theme was seeing what you wanted to see based some event in your life. That and the animal nature of man and his ability to inflict cruelty upon others. I guess I haven't said enough on the latter because that's what Book 2 is all about. The duality of man's personality - his ability for kindness and his ability to be cruel. You see it everyday. Hell, I do it everyday. I open a door for an elderly lady and I yell at a guy that is moving too slow on the interstate. I guess we all wear different faces at different times of the day - and at different times of our lives. I wonder what face I wear the most? I wonder what others think about my many faces? I wonder if I'll ever be enlightened enough to only wear the gentle face?

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Home is the sailor, home from the sea

One of the joys of my job is that I get to travel the world a bit. I'm off to the United Kingdom next week and I'm planning on spending a few days up in Scotland. And while there, I hope to get to the coastline. No matter where I seem to be, I can't help but be drawn to the sea. It pushes and pulls me, the sea. Like the moon pushes and pulls the tide, we are inseparable the sea and I.

Scotland is also the birthplace of one of my favorite childhood authors, Robert Louis Stevenson.

Under the wide and starry sky,
Dig the grave and let me lie.
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.
This be the verse you grave for me:
Here he lies where he longed to be;
Home is the sailor, home from sea.
And the hunter home from the hill.

This is the inscription from Stevenson's gravestone. Kinda sums it up for me.

Friday, April 6, 2007

On the wrong bus...

Okay, this is a pity posting. Just feeling a little out of sorts these days. Like I got on the wrong bus and they won't let me off. But I'm off to Jolly Old England next week and to one of my favorite cities on the planet, London, so that should cheer me up- I think. I just hope I don't get on the wrong bus over there.....

I think it might be the weather. Last week it was 80 degrees and now it's 17. I'm too old for that kind of roller coaster ride. But the sun is warm and the taxes are paid so it's all down hill from here.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Back to the islands...

Been thinking of the islands again...they never seem to be far from my mind. A couple buddies and I are planning a sailing trip to the British Virgin Islands this fall and we've started kicking around possible "sail plans." As we figure, the only good sail plan is the plan that includes plenty of bars. One not to miss is the Willie T - as it is affectionately called. There is always a significant amount of "silliness" that goes on at the Willie T - but that's what the place is for. To cut loose and leave your worries behind 'mon. I guess we all could use a little bit of that now and then.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Write of Spring

I popped into Write of Spring over at the fantastic Once Upon a Crime bookstore here in the Mini-Apple. They do this open house thing every year to allow their customers to meet and get books signed by MN authors - all on one day. Pat took pity on me and let me crash the party as I'm a WI boy. It's a great event and clearly demonstrates how a smart independent bookstore can distinguish themselves from a chain. Don't get me wrong, I love all bookstores as long as they sell my book - but there is something truly special about an independent mystery bookstore. No Borders or B&N could pull something like this off.

As I mentioned above, I really was a party crasher there as my book doesn't come out for a couple more months so I didn't have anything to contribute to the sales process. But I got some yummy lemonade and cookies and got to chat with some authors and rub elbows with some knowledgeable readers. A guy could spend a worse couple hours on a warm spring day. And it does the soul good to see that in these days of big boxes and loss-leader fantasy novels that a smart bookstore can thrive - and have fun doing it.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Don't let the hat fool ya....

Inkspot is off and running and I couldn't be prouder of the bunch of writers I'm associated with. Okay, maybe not all of them...

Midnight Ink has compiled a truly eclectic mix of mysteries and suspense novels - if you can't find someone that suits your taste, you aren't looking hard enough.

And damnit we like to have some fun! I wrote about Bill Cameron a few blogs back and his book "Lost Dog" just hit the shelves. You owe yourself a copy....

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Electricity is magic

I'm in the final stages - well okay maybe not the final stages but gettin' there - of finishing off my basement. I've been told I need to call it a "lower level" now that it has sheetrock and paint and I'm trying, but it's been a basement for so long it's hard to stop.

But this wiring thing, quite frankly, scares me to death. And I know why. It's magic. You can't see it. You can't touch it - or at least you shouldn't. You can't smell it - and if you can you've done something terribly wrong. And I'm not the only one. A fellow Wisconsin writer thinks the same thing too. Read his wonderful book and you'll know my plight because we are kindred spirits when it comes to this sorcery called electricity.

But I sail 7 ton sailboats. I dive to shipwrecks that are 120 feet down in Lake Superior. I should be able to handle a couple switches and outlets shouldn't I? Oh yeah you betcha...

As you can see by the photo above, I'm all about taking precautions. I don't know what is "hot" so I cover everything! And furthermore, I shut the power off to the entire house when I change a lightbulb. Momma didn't raise no fool....

Friday, March 9, 2007

On the nightstand...

I've been on a pretty good streak lately of finding new authors to fall in love with. There are so many fine writers out there - it's pretty damn hard to keep up.

Bermuda Schwartz

I don't normally read "comedic Florida" mysteries but I'm really taken with Zack - the ex-football player turned reluctant PI. I read this while lounging on the beach in Mexico and it was perfect - you hear people talk about a "beach read" - this is it. Fast paced, funny and has a "twist" at the end that will make this series move in very interesting directions.

Blue Edge of Midnight

Jonathon King

King hardly needs my endorsement - he won an Edgar for this book. It's fantastic. Relatively simple plot - no one is trying to blow up the Astro Dome or anything - but the deftly drawn characters and the beautifully rendered setting really draw you in. This is a human drama - not a "high concept" plot driven book. And that's what I like - I think you will too.

Stealing the Dragon

Tim's cover might win the sexiest cover of the year award - and the cover clues you into the real hook of the book. The story is centered around a PI by the name of Cape Weathers but it's Sally that stole the show for me and the cover ostensibley tells us that. I'm looking forward to more Sally and Cape adventures.

Lost Dog

Another cool cover - and this image doesn't do it justice. It's got a metallic sheen to it that makes you want to pick it up. And you won't be disappointed you did. Peter McKrall isn't your typical hero - but then neither is Phil Riley of Running Wrecked fame.... But I have a soft spot for unconventional protagonists as I've long been a fan of Kem Nunn and his surfer books. Lost Dog reminded me of Nunn in the best ways - confident writing, keen attention to setting, and a protagonist that you'd walk by on the street and never think he'd have a story to tell.

Friday, March 2, 2007

It's all in the details....

I hated Dickens when I read him back in High School. Too much description - get to the action please.... I like authors that sprinkle those odd and occasional details that allow you to build an image of a place or person, without having to know their cholesterol count. I read because I want to put myself within that novel and live along side the characters. I do that best when I'm given a telling detail - a kernal of information that I can build off of. I like to "fill in the blanks" with my own thoughts.

I was recently back on one of my favorite islands - Cozumel - at one of my favorite bars - Mescalitos - having one of their deadly hand grenade size margaritas and I found this "shrine."

I took the above photograph there as the image evoked a story for me - this sad little shrine of lost children's shoes and miscellanous debris. And if you've read the first chapter of my book, you will know why I had to take this photo. Note the "telling detail" on the stick in the upper left quarter of the photo. It's images like this that you - as the reader - can build a story around.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Grammar sucks...

I've been going through my "author proofs" on the homestretch to getting the book printed and my editor is very busy saving me from myself. I was an English major in college, but I must have slept through all the grammar stuff because the Chicago Manual of Style might as well be written in Russian because it's that foreign to me. I'm not really sure why tenses have to match anyway. And it's okay that I call a character by one name and then change their name later in the story. The reader can figure that out right?

Now I know why NO ONE should ever be self-published. You need a professional to save you from yourself. And Karl, you are my hero!

Monday, February 12, 2007

What do you do?

I still have to think about that answer when asked. Sure, I've been paid for my writing but I'd hardly say I'm making a living at it. So can I honestly say I'm a writer? I'm not one to quibble about such things usually, but I am a guy that likes a bit of honesty in a conversation. I certainly don't want to mislead anyone. But it's not like I'm telling them I play for the Minnesota Twins - although I caught an orange as it rolled off the counter - I could still play in the show....

Shit, I'm telling people I'm a writer. I wrote a freaking novel for pity's sake! And I'm writing another one too so there! But it still feels kinda weird saying it out loud....

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

First Blog....

I’m a writer, but music plays a huge role in my life. And because I write about the Caribbean, it stands to reason that I would be a fan of Jimmy Buffett. And those of you of like mind will certainly get the not so subtle reference to one of the man's songs in the title of my blog. But I get the impression he’s not the suing type so we’ll let it ride for now….

I wonder if other writers work the same way. That is, turn on iTunes and listen while they write. The image of the solitary writer at his desk with the ticking grandfather clock the only sound in the room is not how this writer writes. I don’t like chaos – but silence is deafening to me. Odd as it might sound, I can’t hear anything else but the silence. So how do you write? Are you the ticking grandfather clock type? Or perhaps you too like a little Caribbean soul.